• Spain edition
Spanish Face of the Week
Ada Colau: Fighting on the home front
Colau referred to a bank representative as "a criminal, not an expert, and that's how you should treat him". Photo: Imagen en Acción/Flickr

Ada Colau: Fighting on the home front

Published: 26 Feb 2013 15:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Feb 2013 09:05 GMT+01:00

So who is Ada Colau?

She’s a 38-year-old civil rights activist from Barcelona who recently called both Spain’s stringent mortgage law, and a renowned banker who praised it, "criminal". She then added, "I would've preferred to have thrown a shoe at him, but chose not to as I had some important things to say today in parliament".

Tell me more about her.
Ada has been the public face of the PAH (Platform for those Affected by Mortgages) for the past four years. This social lobby group has stopped around 600 evictions and continues to denounce an evictions regime it claims has caused the suicides of many people.
The platform gained momentum and a higher profile from the 15M and Democracia real YA! (Real Democracy NOW!) movements of 2012, which saw hundreds of thousands of Spaniards, if not millions, take to the street in protest against the pitiful state of the economy.
But Ada still remained a relatively unknown face in Spain until just recently.
So what’s changed?
On January 29th her condemnation of the banking community in parliament made her the new voice of the average José on the street. Hundreds of thousands have already watched her eloquent but passionate demolition of the evictions regime on YouTube, and her Twitter following has quadrupled in less than three weeks to more than 36,000.
Is there anything else she’s famous for?
No, there’s more. Ada and the PAH managed to gather 1.4 million signatures for an initiative calling on parliament to amend Spain’s intransigent mortgage law, which not only empowered courts to evict defaulting debtors but also to embargo their assets and future earnings.
Colau and her colleagues went to parliament on February 12th to call for legal changes to allow outstanding mortgage debt to be liquidated on surrender of the property.
But the PP was having none of it and chose to vote against the initiative on the grounds that it had its own proposals that would make the petition obsolete.
That was until Basque MP Uxue Barkos informed the house that a couple in Mallorca had just committed suicide after finding out they were to be evicted.
Colau and other PAH activists heckled PP speakers and chanted "¡Sí, se puede!" (Yes, we can!) and "bastards", until they were expelled from the public gallery. The PP speaker in congress Jesus Posadas was then caught on microphone calling out to the ushers: "Fuck, have them thrown out!"
But during a corruption scandal involving handouts made to many top officials and with the overall reputation of the party in tatters, PP deputies could not really avoid giving Ada Colau a national stage on which to talk about Spain’s housing crisis.
What's next for her then?
Ada has been hailed by many Spaniards as a modern day heroine who is standing up to a lacklustre government with no sympathy for those being forced out of their homes.
There have already been calls for her to enter parliament, but she says “it’s the assembly that will decide my future”.
In the meantime, Colau appears adamant about continuing the fight against evictions.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Barceloneta protests
Barcelona mayor vows to close illegal holiday flats
Locals in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Barceloneta are calling for all tourist apartments in the area to be closed. Photo of Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona: Shu

Barcelona mayor vows to close illegal holiday flats

The mayor of Barcelona has vowed to "get tough" on people who rent out illegal tourist apartment in the city's Barceloneta neighbourhood after demonstrations by locals against the unruly behaviour of tourists. READ  

In pictures: Spain's Tomatina festival 2014
A man throws tomato pulp during the annual "tomatina" festivities in the village of Buñol, near Valencia on Wednesday. Photo: Gabriel Gallo/AFP

In pictures: Spain's Tomatina festival 2014

Spain's crazy Tomatina festival was its usual squishy self on Wednesday as nearly 22,000 people gathered in the Spanish town of Buñol to pelt each other with ripe tomatoes. READ  

Tired man kills neighbour over barking dog
Neighbours said the pair had already argued before, the aggressor reprimanding his soon-to-be victim for not letting him have his afternoon nap. Photo: Gabriel Flores Romero

Tired man kills neighbour over barking dog

A siesta-deprived man from eastern Spain has shot dead his neighbour during an argument they had over the victim's dog and its barking. READ  

Ice Bucket Challenge
'Ice bucket videos can distract from ALS cause'

'Ice bucket videos can distract from ALS cause'

Although donations from the Ice Bucket Challenge craze are finally starting to pour into Spain's ALS Association, president Adriana Guevara tells The Local that many sufferers of this crippling illness are being overlooked by the Spanish government. READ  

Football focus
I didn't want to leave Real Madrid: Ángel di María
"Unfortunately, today I have to leave, but I want to make it clear that was never my wish," Di María said in an open letter to Madrid sports daily Marca. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

I didn't want to leave Real Madrid: Ángel di María

Argentine midfielder Ángel di María has claimed he never asked to leave Real Madrid after sealing his British transfer record £59.7 million ($98 million, €75 million) move to Manchester United. READ  

Fashion fail
Zara pulls plug on 'Holocaust shirt' for kids
The Turkish-made garment has been withdrawn from sale by Zara. Screen grab: Zara

Zara pulls plug on 'Holocaust shirt' for kids

UPDATED: The Spanish clothing giant Zara has apologized for selling a striped shirt for children which appears to resemble the clothes worn by prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. READ  

Spanish property
New mortgages shoot up 19 percent in June

New mortgages shoot up 19 percent in June

The number of new mortgages in Spain in June was up nearly 20 percent on the same month in 2013, only the second such year-on-year rise in four years, official figures released on Wednesday show, but the credit crunch is far from over. READ  

Mafia kiss leads Ibiza police to Rolex thieves
The grainy footage was enough to help police identify and locate five of the Camorra members operating on the island. Screengrab: Italian State Police/YouTube

Mafia kiss leads Ibiza police to Rolex thieves

Security cameras from a hotel on Spain's holiday island of Ibiza have helped police catch a Camorra gang specializing in luxury watch theft, as footage showed one of the thieves kissing his partner in crime on the lips when he pulled out a Rolex he'd just stolen. READ  

Brits arrested over bullring pot plantation
"The bullring had been covered with material which transformed the arena in two large greenhouses," Spanish police said. Photo: Spanish Interior Ministry

Brits arrested over bullring pot plantation

Spanish police arrested seven people, including three Brits, after raiding a giant marijuana farm built into a bullring, the interior ministry said on Tuesday. READ  

Tomatina fest fights on despite corruption claims
Photo: Pablo Argente/AFP

Tomatina fest fights on despite corruption claims

Thousands of half-naked revellers will pelt each other with squishy tomatoes on Wednesday in Spain's Tomatina, a world-renowned fiesta stained this year by a row over its privatization. READ  

Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
Spanish police mistake Morocco's king for people smuggler
What's On
What's on in Spain: September
Miss Spain comes out of closet on Instagram
Top ten: Spain's best natural swimming pools
'Dying' town flogs off land for €200 to woo new blood
Gays to blame for Spain's trillion euro debt: senator
Spain's anti-rape guidelines: 1) Close your curtains
Woman on Madrid plane had 1.7kg coke in breasts
'Spain's hospitals aren't ready for Ebola'
Twelve things tourists do that annoy Spaniards
Swiss sex tourists slapped with seatbelt fine
Top ten 'English' words made in Spain: Part 2
'I hate the black man in the White House'
Top 10: Spanish tourist traps you should avoid
127 kg of cocaine found on navy training ship
Spain's 14-year-old jihadist girl locked up
Fox News names Penelope Cruz 'idiot of the week'
Spain pulls plug on weapons sales to Israel
Made in Spain: the ice cream that changes colour while you eat
Pic of the day: Spain dazzles in Nasa photo
A to Z of Spanish politics: a handy guide
Orlando Bloom 'punches' Justin Bieber in Ibiza
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

jobs available